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Galton Whistle


A small metal instrument mounted on a metal handle or grip. The instrument consists of 2 tapered metal cylinders mounted horizontally on the top ends of the handle. The the narrow end of each cylinder almost meeting in the centre above the handle. Each cylinder has two numbered dials which are used to adjust the distance between their ends and thus the frequency of the sound produced as air is forced through the cylinders.

The instrument was likely purchased with a rubber bulb attachment, used to produce the airflow through the instrument. This has not survived.

Accession Number: 2012.psy.80

Alternative Name: Ultrasonic Whistle

Primary Materials: Metal, plastic


The name and location of the manufacturer “EDELMANN M√úNCHEN”, is engraved on the flat handle. The number “389” is also engraved in the upper left corner of the handle.

Dimensions (cm): Height = 2, Width = 4.5, Length = 15.5


Produces an ultrasonic sound of variable frequency.


Good. The object displays several scratches and sign of wear.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Eldelmann, Munich, Germany

Date of Manufacture: Late 19th century


On loan from Prof. Jonathan Freedman, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes:

The Galton whistle was invented by Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) in the mid-1800s to test the upper limits of hearing. It became a standard piece of acoustical equipment in the early psychological laboratories. [Joyce and Baker, 2009]

1) Joyce, Nick, and David B. Baker. 2009. <a href=””>The galton whistle</a>. <i>Observer</i> 22 (3) (March 2009): accessed 5 February 2012.